SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Pay raises for New Mexico’s teachers are on the table. Today, Wednesday January 26, legislators will consider several pieces of legislation relating to education. A few government agencies will also present budget requests, including the Public Regulation Commission, and the New Mexico State Fair.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico’s teachers faced countless challenges. From promised-then-rescinded bonuses for Albuquerque teachers to the difficulties of remote teaching, no one disputes the toll the pandemic has taken.

The Governor’s budget recommendation for fiscal year 2023 included raising teacher salaries across the state. Her proposal would bump level 1 teachers — the lowest level of licensed teachers — to $50,000 a year, up from $41,000. The proposal raises level 2 and level 3 teachers up to $60,000 and $70,000 respectively. Today, Wednesday January 26, the Senate Education Committee will consider Senate Bill 1, which includes those pay raises.

“Right now our neighbors are paying significantly more for educators than New Mexico is,” Whitney Holland, the president of the New Mexico affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, told KRQE News 13 earlier this year. “And our raises — while they’ve been substantial over the last few years — so have our neighbors’ [raises]. So we’re just struggling to keep up.”

Colorado, for example passed a bill last year to create a fund specifically to improve teacher and unlicensed school employee pay. Even before that, Colorado’s average teacher salary was more than $57,000 per year, according to data from the National Education Association. New Mexico’s average teacher salary is about $54,000 per year, their data shows.

Legislators will discuss Senate Bill 1 to improve teacher salaries in a 9:00 a.m. meeting. The public can participate via Zoom link. In the meeting, they’ll also discuss Senate Bill 32, which would fund outdoor learning programs and Senate Bill 50, which would expand nursing programs at colleges.

Bills to support economic development

  • Today, Wednesday January 26, the House Commerce & Economic Development Committee will meet to discuss a few bills related to New Mexico’s economy.
  • They’ll consider House Bill 67, which would extend the existing tax credit to help New Mexican businesses incorporate technology developed at national laboratories.
  • They’ll also consider House Memorial 9, which would create a task force to address the housing availability and affordability across the state. In particular, the memorial would focus on ways to speed up the construction process.

Bill considering cigarette and e-cig tax increase

  • Today, Wednesday January 26, the House Health & Human Services Committee will consider House Bill 33, which would increase the excise tax on some tobacco products.
  • Currently, New Mexico taxes 10 cents per each regular cigarette sold. The new bill would double the tax to 20 cents, making the tax $2 per pack and setting New Mexico’s tax rate higher than surrounding states, according to a fiscal analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee.
  • Pre-filled, single use e-cigarette cartridges would also be taxed at a higher rate than before. Currently, the state levies a 50 cent tax per cartridge. That would increase to $3.32 per cartridge.
  • Funds from the taxes currently go towards healthcare-related programs in the state. The bill would make some adjustments to those distributions.